Perhaps it’s an ironic twist of fate that the Mersey Beatles have outlasted the original Fab Four. But like The Beatles, the tribute band hails from Liverpool, England, and that helps give them a level of authenticity, said Steven Howard.

“We have four original members since 1999. Ringo is played by Brian Ambrose, John is played by Mark Bloor, I’m Paul, and our keyboard wiz is Tony Cook. We went through school together. Life was all about football (soccer) and music. That’s Liverpool.

“Craig McGown joined as George last year as my cousin (David Howard) tired of travel and took a job closer to home. Craig is the best George in the business in my opinion, but more importantly to band dynamics he is on our wavelength musically and with his humor.”

The tribute band will change costumes a few times, keeping their look in line with the songs planned in a set. But Howard said there’s not a lot of “method acting,” or getting into character, for a performance.

“The music comes first. Learning the timing on ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ or the harmonies on ‘Lovely Rita’ means more to us than anything,” said Howard.

“We don't work too hard on the acting, to be honest. Being from Liverpool we have the accent and general humor of the originals. To overplay it would be a wrong step. I think it’s our natural state to be a bit like them.



We dont take ourselves too seriously and performing is always fun.

“Getting the music right in rehearsal is our aim so that we can relax and enjoy the concerts. The suits and gear help the look and sound. You can come along and be in the moment or pretend it the 60s. We leave it up to the audience how much to suspend their disbelief.”

Howard said as often as not there’s a lot of audience interaction with the Mersey Beatles.





“We have no script. I love it when the audience shout out requests and funny things,” he said. “We have three witty fellas in the front and Ringo shouting out his own answers for us to relay.

“There’s no point in trying to stick to some phoney script. The audience dictates the feel of the night. If they want to dance we'll change the set on the spot. If they want something rare we'll give it a go.

“We admire the American tributes but we could never stick to a script. It would come over as stiff. The Beatles were all about spontaneity, fun, energy and emotion. We really love The Beatles and this has to be allowed to come across in the moment, not in prepared statements and old Beatles quotes. The music speaks for itself and we try to breath life into it with our enthusiasm for it.”

While there’s a certain amount of dedication required of a tribute band to insure a quality performance, Howard said he has a wide range of musical tastes, and it’s not a matter of being all Beatles, all the time.

“I am a fan of all music and The Beatles in particular. I was eight years old when John Lennon was tragically killed. This makes me an unconscionable 40-something,” Howard cracked. “Thank goodness for a decent wig. We are very lucky to have been drinking the magic water in Liverpool to keep us young.

Howard said playing the role of Paul McCartney, before his was knighted and became Sir Paul, has had its learning moments over the last 18 years.

“The Beatles taught me that love really is all you need, that excellence comes from hard work and dedication and that, as I suspected at an early age, they really were pure genius. You rubber stamp this belief when you start to deconstruct and reconstruct the songs for harmony, timing, feel and tempo.

“I can tell you the harmonies on their first album are as involved as anything on Sgt. Pepper and I love that.”

The Mersey Beatles will appear at the Wagon Wheel Center For The Arts at 7:30 p.m. May 4. Tickets are available at wagonwheelcenter.org. For more information on the band, visit www.TheMerseyBeatles.com.